Aletho News


Munich Security Conference 2023: An Exercise in Western Self-Delusion

By Scott Ritter – Sputnik – 20.02.2023

Delegates from around the world assembled in Munich, Germany on February 17, 2023, to convene an eponymously named security conference that has, since its inception in 1963, operated under the motto “Peace through Dialogue.”

For three days, world leaders participated in what has become known as “the Davos of Defense” (a reference to the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland), discussing critical security issues of the day.

This year, not surprisingly, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict dominated the agenda. What was a surprise, however, was the emphasis that western participants placed on action over discussion when it came to formulating a collective strategy for achieving some sort of conflict termination. Indeed, the dominant theme at Munich was not simply how to provide more material to Ukraine’s military, but how to do so in a manner that escalates the conflict by challenging Russia’s so-called “red lines” – regarding western support to Ukraine.

For the first time since the 1990’s, Russia was not invited to attend the conference. Instead, prominent Russian opposition figures, including exiled oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, chess champion Gary Kasparov, and Yulia Navalnaya, the wife of the imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny, were invited. The chairman of the conference, Christoph Heusgen, explained this pointed deviation from the principle of promoting dialogue by declaring that he did not want to be seen as providing a platform for Russian propaganda.

Instead, it turned out, Heusgen turned the floor over to western propagandists.

The underlying theme in Munich went beyond an escalation of support for Ukraine, and instead embraced the outright provocation of Russia. Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda served as the pace-setter for this trend when, prior to the Munich Security Conference, he urged western leaders to consider providing Ukraine with “essential military aid” such as tanks, fighter aircraft, and long-range missiles, despite long-standing concerns by the west that the provision of such aid would be seen by Russia as evidence of direct participation by the providing parties in the conflict. “These red lines,” Nauseda declared, “must be crossed.”

On cue, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky opened the conference with an appeal, delivered via video and designed to underscore a sense of urgency.

“We need to hurry up,” Zelensky declared. “We need speed—speed of our agreements, speed of our delivery, speed of decisions to limit Russian potential. There is no alternative to speed because it is the speed that the life depends on,” Zelensky said, concluding that there was “no alternative to a Ukrainian victory.”

But Zelensky’s exhortations for speed appeared to fall upon deaf ears when it came to two of Europe’s most important leaders. Both Germany’s Olaf Scholz and France’s Emmanuel Macron underscored that, from their perspective, the conflict in Ukraine would not be ending anytime soon. “I think it’s wise to prepare for a long war,” Scholz noted in his remarks to the conference, a sentiment Macron echoed by saying that Europe should prepare for a “prolonged conflict in Ukraine.”

Declaring that now was “not the time for dialogue,” Macron urged his fellow conference attendees to action. “We absolutely need to intensify our support and our effort to the resistance of the Ukrainian people and its army,” Macron said, and “help them to launch a counter-offensive which alone can allow credible negotiations, determined by Ukraine, its authorities and its people.”

There is a fundamental disconnect between the frenetic urgings of President Zelensky and the long-term approaches taken by Scholz and Macron that point to an overall atmosphere of self-delusion that seemed to dominate the Munich Security Conference.

While US Vice President Kamala Harris spoke of bringing Russian leaders “to justice” for alleged war crimes in Ukraine, the Ukrainian military is being systemically ground down on the battlefields of eastern Ukraine, soil that Russia now claims for its own. Current NATO military commander, Lieutenant General Christopher Cavoli, has described these battles as being “out of proportion” to NATO plans and capabilities in terms of the “scope and scale” of the violence being perpetrated on the ground by both parties to the conflict.

Rather than accept the inevitability of a Ukrainian military defeat, however, Cavoli briefed US lawmakers on the sidelines of the Munich Conference that, in his opinion, Ukraine should be provided with modern jet aircraft, including F-16 fighters, and long-range missiles capable of striking targets deep inside Russian territory. These weapons, Cavoli said, would enable Ukraine to fight what he termed “the deep fight”, shifting the emphasis from the deadly fighting at the point of direct engagement to a new war where Ukraine would disrupt the Russian war effort by striking headquarters and supply lines deep behind the frontlines.

In short, Cavoli was outlining an escalatory strategy brought to life by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda’s earlier exhortations to cross all “red lines” when it came to supporting Ukraine.

But simple rhetoric cannot bridge the yawning gap that exists with reality. Words, especially in an environment like this year’s Munich Security Conference, where all pretense at dialogue has been forsaken in favor of the construction of a pro-western echo, resonate in a manner which promotes an artificial sense of substance. But unless these words are backed by concerted action, they carry no weight and will soon dissipate into nothingness.

This, in short, is the reality of the Munich Security Council—an exercise in self-delusion, similar in construct to the discussions around the conference table in the last days of the Battle of Berlin in 1945, in which Adolf Hitler moved imaginary armies around in a vain effort to seize victory from the inevitability of defeat.

The fact is, there are no tanks, no long-range missiles, no fighter aircraft available in any realistic time-frame that can help Ukraine reverse the deterioration of its military posture vis-à-vis Russia. Zelensky’s demands for urgency reflect a growing recognition on his part that, if left on the current trajectory, the war with Russia will be over soon—perhaps as early as August 2023. The inability and/or unwillingness on the part of the western military and civilian leadership to match their declarations of support with Zelensky’s timeline demonstrates an absolute divorce from reality on the part of those who were gathered in Munich, or else the cynicism of those who know the tragic fate that awaits those they claim to support only too well.

The harsh truth that the participants of the Munich Security Conference know, but cannot speak, is that there is no hope for a Ukrainian victory over Russia.

February 20, 2023 - Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia | , , , ,

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